Around the Institute

From Teddy Bears to Boredom

August 10, 2012

Teddy Bears, Dictators, and the Power of Ridicule
Recently, the Swedish advertising agency Studio Total pulled a peculiar stunt: they flew a small plane into Belarus (Europe’s last dictatorship) and dropped lots of teddy bears along with messages about democracy and free speech. In an interview with Foreign Policy, the two ad execs piloting the plane called the “teddy-bear-drop” an act of protest designed to underscore the lack of freedom in the country—and also get Belarusians to laugh at their dictator. Humor as weapon? Creative advocacy, indeed.

Thinking Developmentally / Funding Wisely
Our friends at the Center for Evaluation Innovation and FSG just released “Evaluating Social Innovation,” which explores the uses, benefits and challenges of developmental evaluation from the grantmaker’s perspective. Not all evaluations are suited for this approach; but for those that potentially fit, the paper argues that thinking “developmentally” nurtures social innovation and continuous learning. While some funders may find it difficult to embrace this strategy, the report shows there are several success stories out there already.

Accessible Messaging
This week’s Trade Fact of the Week takes us back to the 1988 US-Canada Free Trade Agreement, which was later expanded to the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, to highlight a simple insight: while policy may be boring, it can have really important consequences, and we’d do well to know about them. The challenge for information producers, then, is explaining policy in a way that draws folks in. So kudos to Trade Fact of the Week for making global trade issues accessible to its audience of journalists and wonks. That’s a triumph of style over the inherently boring.